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In-depth: What is fuelling the growth of Connected TV in India? spoke to advertisers and industry experts to understand the reach and growth prospects of CTV along with the possibilities of the medium emerging as a platform for TV viewership data

Connected TV, which has recorded notable growth in the past few years, is becoming a paradise for advertisers. With single layer targeting and digital penetration, the medium looks highly promising for advertisers as well as consumers.  

As per reports, the share of smart TVs in overall TV shipments in India reached 84% in 2021, compared to 67% in 2020.

Recently while interacting with, MK Anand, MD and CEO, Times Network shared his plans for CTVs. He had said, “We are already part of connected TV through Airtel, Jio and MX player, etc on their apps. Currently, we are in the process of developing our own connected TV app. We hope to be able to launch that in Q2 of FY 2022-2023 and we aim to get around a million users on connected TV in the first year of launch itself.” 

Anand’s statement shows the excitement the big players have for CTVs, and along with this, the advertisers have also envisioned the humongous possibilities and hence are game for experiments and learnings. caught up with advertisers and industry experts to understand the reach and growth prospects of CTV along with the possibilities of the medium emerging as a platform for TV viewership data, as the sample size is quite big here. 

Reach and growth possibilities 

We can’t blindly credit the pandemic for the growth of many businesses, but TV viewership did increase in the past two years. Not only in metro cities but in smaller towns too people enjoyed content from various genres on OTT platforms, gaming, sports properties, movies and music on their television sets. 

Raj Joshi

And there are multiple factors that helped, elaborated Raj Joshi, VP Marketing, AU Small Finance Bank. He said, “After the New Tariff Order (NTO) in 2019, now a consumer can select their own channels or packages on TV. Even if I go for that, the minimum I have to pay is Rs 185. Now with this connected TV, even if I have to go for a paid subscription, which is a Rs 499 annual subscription or a Rs 1000 annual subscription, and if I break it down to a monthly expense, it is not even going to reach a hundred bucks per month. So, the same content, along with some other content, which wouldn’t have been available otherwise, on my organic TVs, would be available to me at a cheaper cost.” 

He further spoke about the HD plug-ins and digital penetration. Joshi said, “Apart from the smart TV sales, let's also look at the HD plug-ins which are available and at a very lower cost. And to support that, if you look at Jio, as a digital network, or digital service provider, it’s expanding its wings every day and every hour as we speak. And as what they have planned by 2023-24, they will be covering almost 65-70% of the country’s population or TV households for that matter. So, if the digital penetration increases, and if there’s an external HD port which is available, this definitely has to go up further.” 

Pawan Sarda

Pawan Sarda, Group CMO – Digital Marketing and E-commerce business, Future Group India, echoed similar sentiments and said that he is very positive about the growth of connected TVs in even tier-2, tier-3 markets. 

He said, “This phenomenon is going to grow because there’s so much content which is being built.” 

Zameer Kochar

Zameer Kochar – Chief Marketing Officer, Rajasthan Royals, said, “CTV adoption is overall increasing and consumers are embracing this change.  While a lot of video streaming yet happens on mobile but the pandemic period also saw a shift in video consumption happening on CTV. A lot of younger audiences are today watching YouTube on CTV.” 

How advertisers are looking at it? 

Similar to ‘Home is where the heart is’ is another saying ‘An advertiser is where the consumers are’, and gradually consumers are shifting to CTVs. 

Kochar said, “Real value for the brand is when they can get strong consumer insights on their viewing habits, their interests and behavioural preferences which can help them generate audience segments. This will result in sharp targeting, the use of creative ad formats that land the brand message effectively, thus bringing in overall cost-effectiveness.” 

Joshi added, “If I look at it from a marketer’s perspective when I was looking at a Television as a whole, I was just throwing my ad spots out there and just waiting for the right kind of TG to really pick it up. But with this connected TV and if I am a marketer, I can choose which household I need to capture to.” 

Another major factor highlighted by Joshi was consumer loyalty for any specific genre or show. “Earlier, there were particular days, particular time slots when we would watch TV for a particular show. So, the loyalty was for a show. But apparently, with a plethora of TV channels available, the loyalty or the stickiness to a particular show decreased. Which will increase again because on CTV I am choosing which show I am watching at any point in time during the day and then I am sticking to it. As an advertiser I would know which show, the genre is my consumer watching,” he said. 

Ramsai Panchapakesan

Ramsai Panchapakesan, Sr VP and National Head, Integrated Media Buying at Zenith, is of the belief that CTVs are actually known for the segment of affluent audiences. He said, “Right now, there are close to 75 million paid subscribers which constitute close to 20 million households. Of which, about 20-22% of the CTV viewing households are complete cord-cutters, that is the first potential for the growth, from an advertising POV in terms of adex.” 

“If you want to reach out to this 20% household, which means close to 5 million households, this is the only way to reach out to them through CTV. And this is not just metros, but tier-1 towns as well,” he added. 

How expensive the medium is? 

If connected TV can provide so much to the advertisers, then the CTV players must be making a fortune out of it. This seems to be true because all the industry experts reached out to said that the medium is costlier than any other. 

Not just that, but advertising on CTVs can become even more expensive in the times to come as the demand increases. 

Ranjeet Kumar

Ranjeet Kumar, Head of Brand and Content, Scaler & InterviewBit, said, “The price completely depends on the audience that we’re buying. For a product like ours, the rates are significantly high. For a friend of mine in a hygiene brand, the rates are 30-40% lesser than mine. It is 15-20% at par with digital platforms and also, I can say that it is at par with branded content.” 

Kumar, who has already explored the space in terms of advertising, and is now planning to double his spends here, added, “At CTV, we’re not buying inventory, we’re buying audiences. It’s like anybody who has shown affinity or interest in education as a product, I will only want to advertise to them. Right now, we use audience buying as a proxy to get into connected TV. We don’t buy inventory. Like IPL is an inventory buying.”

To which, Panchapakesan added, “When you do single layer targeting, the cost goes up to 2x because you are reaching out to the cream of the audience and probability of CTA is far higher.” 

While Future Group’s Sarda said, “The prices will further go up. From digital advertisers’ point of view, obviously, you cater to a cohort or a consumer set. So, more and more advertising coming in will definitely increase the demand and pricing also.” 

Possibilities for TV viewership measurement 

On connected TVs, viewers spend the majority of the time watching movies, followed by music and games, as per Panchapakesan. 

And it is not just the genre that can be identified here. In fact, overall viewership tracking and even real-time tracking is possible on CTVs. This opens a whole new perspective around third-party viewership data which is highly beneficial for advertisers, as with more data they can come up with a better strategy. 

AU Small Finance Bank's Joshi said, "The reason why digital has actually gained momentum is that I am actually able to measure data in real-time and I can also measure it to the last leg. Currently, I am dependent on some 30-40 thousand peoplemeters and according to their whims and fancies, I am deciding the fate of the broadcasting industry. But that would no more be the rule. The higher the database the higher the reporting, the higher the monitoring.” 

“Days are not far when you’ll have third-party companies saying that we have connected TV viewership data, which is very much a possibility. With this, the content customisation will also be there because they’ll know the trends in real-time,” he went on to add.

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